Rolling out EMR? Don’t forget to architect a communication strategy.

2014 is right around the corner. You know that clinical outcomes will be your competitive advantage, and that your clinical electronic medical record (EMR) data will be the foundation upon which your future depends in the ACO-driven world of healthcare.

You’re either in a pilot or planning a pilot for EMR, and are thinking about expediting rollout, so that you have a leg up when the market heats up. You’ll be first to the table with great disease management programs, and clinical outcomes to sell the hospital on the idea of partnering with you because you can lower their readmits and risk of decreased reimbursement.

There’s only one problem.

The rest of your team just doesn’t get it. It’s too complex. They have not connected the dots and do not as a result share your urgency. They may even see the move to EMRs as creating more work in addition to their day jobs, not less. They have been working on paper forever and you’re wondering how your older workforce will adapt to change. The last thing you want to do is to cater to this crowd by allowing automation of dated processes, and catering to inefficient workflows that add cost. And the ACO-related story? Too far away from the clinical challenges they’re facing in the next 5 minutes.

You can communicate your way out of this problem.

After you have developed your EMR strategy, prepared your leadership team, organized a pilot, and secured protected health information, the next step is to get the word out. The following chart outlines audiences and approaches that will generate buzz and excitement for your transformation:

Audience Ideal Response Ideal Result Impact Approach
Physicians and staff Quickly embrace change Fast ROI for EMR Physicians and staff that are well-versed on EMR will ensure consistent responses to any questions posed by families. Information must be communicated to show how EMRs assist in care delivery and to prevent confusion. Physician and staff education will identify changes and benefits for patients and residents, and show positive impact of EMRs on patient care. Hold workshops. Ask them what are the top 5 things they worry about and then show them how to run reports instantly.
Patients, residents, and families Experience better service Referrals Implementing EMR will create very positive impacts for your patients and residents. Letters/emails and raising Patient Council awareness will clarify changes and benefits for patients and how EMRs positively impact patient care. We recommend monthly updates for at least 12 months. See “community” answers below as well. Hold open houses. Let them come and touch the technology as well as see it work in action. Get quotes. Put them on your site. Print them in posters. Add them to newsletters.
ACOs Prefer your outcomes Attract new residents and patients ACOs should be engaged early and often, to demonstrate how they will get your digital outcomes portfolio and why you will outperform competitors. C-level executives to leverage relationships with hospital executives by positioning your commitment to the best outcomes in the region and the ACOs best chance for referrals without readmissions back to the hospital. Specialize, differentiate, and continuously position value with “report cards.”
Community Differentiate you from competitors New business Implementing the capabilities and innovation offered by EMR demonstrates your position as a leader in your market and your focus on constant quality improvement. Blogging and a news release sends signals to the regions in which you operate, and the industry a whole, that you are serious about investing in quality care delivery and positive outcomes for patients and residents. Add features to your home page about your success with technology and case examples of improved resident quality of care.

You cannot over communicate because this transformation will impact everyone in the four walls of your communities and beyond. These ideas just scratch the surface to get you thinking.